A musical piece commissioned for the grand opening ceremonies Sept. 15 of the new Science Building at Eastern Kentucky University was aptly titled “Emergence Fanfare for Brass Quintet.”
When Phase 2 of the facility was joined to Phase 1 this year, it gave EKU the largest such facility on any college campus in the Commonwealth and signaled the emergence of the University as a leader in preparing students for much-needed careers in the STEM fields.
“Life, to me, is about moments, and this is one of them,” said Craig Turner, chair of the EKU Board of Regents. “The impact of this facility on the college and the students, you can’t put into words.”
For EKU President Michael Benson, two key words came to mind: “Student success is our passion, and that’s what this building is all about.”
When the first phase of the facility opened in 2012, housing the departments of Chemistry and Physics & Astronomy. Within its first year, student achievement was up, absenteeism dropped, faculty collaboration and scholarship increased, and instructor evaluations improved. University officials expect more of the same with Phase 2, which houses the departments of Biological Sciences and Geosciences.
“Phase 2 of the Science Building provides us with more space, better space and a safer space in which to pursue this passion,” said Dr. Tom Otieno, dean of EKU’s College of Science. “It has also added more state-of-the-art technology and scientific equipment for both instruction and cutting-edge research to our resources.
“The completion of Phase 2 also brings all the natural sciences under one roof, which has several benefits,” Otieno continued. “Students have easier access to most of their professors, which promotes more out-of-classroom interactions. They have easier access to their advisers and graduation specialists, making advising and monitoring of student progress toward graduation more efficient. And the sharing of ideas, scientific equipment and other resources is easier, allowing for increased collaboration in teaching and research among the faculty.”
The dean also noted that the facility extends the college’s capabilities for outreach to the K-12 community.
Since Phase 1 opened in 2012, enrollment in the college’s programs has steadily increased.
One of those students, senior geology major Laura Kelley, had taken her courses in the department’s previous home until this fall.
“This building has so many wonderful features to help students work together, work with faculty, and grow their interests and skills in their respective fields,” Kelley said, specifically citing a new geospatial analysis lab. “I know that, with the new building, the sciences here at Eastern will become an important part of this campus now and for years to come.”
The ceremonies also included remarks by State Sen. Jared Carpenter, State Rep. Jonathan Shell and Richmond Mayor Jim Barnes.
Together, the two phases total 333,000 square feet and were built at a cost of just over $130 million. The College of Science, which also includes the departments of Computer Science and Mathematics and Statistics in the nearby Wallace Building, currently enrolls 1,430 students in 20 degree programs, also offering 17 minors, two certificates and many pre-health professional programs. The college boasts 107 full-time faculty, including 82 tenure-track.
“Emergence Fanfare for Brass Quintet” was composed by Dr. Richard Byrd of the EKU music faculty and performed by the EKU Brass, including Byrd. Its title is intended to reflect the similarities between music and science and capture the excitement of new beginnings and boundless possibilities.